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Dance Centre Artist-in-Residence Olivia C. Davies is curating a program of public events to take place throughout the season, starting with CoexisDance on December 22. Our Digital Marketing Coordinator Lindsay Curtis sat down with Olivia to find out more about her work, CoexisDance, and her plans for the year:
LC Tell us about your background – what are some of the key themes you address in your work?
OD I am a contemporary dance artist and the Artistic Director of O.Dela Arts. I have established a multifaceted practice of creation, production, and community engagement that honours my mixed French-Canadian/Anishnaabe heritage, and is grounded in exploration of the dynamic relationship humans have to the land, to the water, and to our environment.
My dance career spans the last three decades with an early training background in classical ballet, then modern dance-theatre, and formal training at York University’s Dance Program. My performance experience includes experimental improvisation with poets, painters, and musicians, and as a choreographer I have collaborated with artists to create dances for alternative fashion runway shows, music videos, and site-specific live accompaniment performances.
I moved to Vancouver in 2011 and upon finding other contemporary Indigenous dance artists, I refined my artistic vision as a mixed-blood contemporary Indigenous dance artist by deepening my connection to my First Nations ancestry. O.Dela Arts was founded this year as a home for my choreographic expression, community arts engagement, and collaboration. I am inspired to draw on the rich tapestry of conventional and non-conventional performances I witness in the arts community, the global movement to address environmental issues that are changing the face of our planet, the cultural teachings encoded in stories shared by women, my dreams, the supernatural beauty found in the landscape of the West Coast, music, literature, and the broader dance ecology.
LC You have a major Dance Centre residency this season, what are some of the highlights?
OD In the spring I am hosting Home: Our Way, a women’s creative writing and dance workshop which explores the idea of Home in the body. This is a collaboration with the Crow’s Nest Collective, artist/writer/filmmaker Rosemary Georgeson, and other guest facilitators. Then in the summer I am curating Matriarchs Uprising (June 20-22, 2019) a weekend of performances, events and circle conversations focusing on women in the arts and highlighting work by contemporary female artists.
LC Tell us about CoexisDance, your first residency event on December 22.
OD CoexisDance brings together pairs of dance artists and sound artists who will share short, improvised duets in an intimate evening of performances that culminate in a group jam. This is the first Western Canadian edition of CoexisDance, which was pioneered in Toronto by Colin Anthony in the early 2000’s with the format ‘no more than two dancers, no more than two musicians, at least one of each.’ As curator, I have invited six dancers to form duets with six musicians: each dancer-musician pair will perform a duet, and then the duets will be paired together for two trios to perform together in a final group jam! The dancers are Emmalena Fredriksson, Emily Long, Julia Carr, myself (replacing Lori Hamar), Salome Nieto and Sophie Brassard; and the musicians are Ben Wylie (replacing Alex Mah), Marisa Etchart, Carol Sawyer, Joshua Zubot, Jeff Younger and Rémi Thibault.
I am inspired to bring this presentation series to the Vancouver dance community as it has the potential to seed dynamic connections and collaborations amongst the artists involved.The format is broad enough to encompass multiple interpretations of improvisational scores that are nurtured through short creation residencies for each person in duet to get to know one another and foster trust and strengthen their relationship prior to performance. The resulting scores are re-imagined in the formal theatre space to welcome audience-witnesses to experience the outcome of the duet. I am grateful to the generations of improvising artists before me, who have done the work of educating audiences to be able to appreciate improvised performance by highly skilled movers.
CoexisDance Western Edition 1
Saturday, December 22, 2018 at 8pm
Scotiabank Dance Centre, 677 Davie St, Vancouver
Tickets: Pay-what-you-can at the door – suggested $10
Supported through the Artist-in-Residence program
Photos: Dayna Szyndrowski and David C Wong